...........................


The Silk Road
............................................................................................................................

This ancient trade route starts in the old capitals of Luoyang and 
X’ian,reaches the Yellow River at Lanzhou, follows along the "Gansu Corridor" and stretches along the edge of deserts and mountains. Before the discovery of the sea route to India, the Silk Road was the most important connection between the Orient and the West. It experienced its last great era during the time of Mongols, when the entire route from China to the Mediterranean was part of one empire. At that time, Nicolo and Marco Polo traveled from Kashgar to the Far East along the southern route. The overland link quickly lost its importance as trade across the seas developed. Today it has been replaced in China with the railway line Lanzhou-Hami-Urumqi. The last part, to Alma-Ata in Kazatchstan was completed in 1992. The trade route was never known as the Silk Road historically. It was given the name by a German geographer Ferdinand Freiherr von Richthofen.

Zhangye, the capital of Zhangye province was founded in 121 BC as a garrison town, has a bell tower in the town centre. It dates from 1509 , with a bell from the Tang period. The Wooden Pagoda found here is also dates from the Tang period, though its the first six floors out of a total of eight are actually made of brick. It is generally no possible for travelers to stay in these places as some of them are restricted military areas.

Jinquan, which is a growing industrial town, was founded in 111 BC as a garrison town, Between 127 and 102 BC, the Han emperors relocated about 980,000 peasant families as paramilitary peasants including at least 700,000 victims of the flood in Shandong. The charming Springs Parks at the edge of the town was built as a memorial to General Huo Qubing who is once said to have been given a barrel of wine by the Han emperor Wudi as a reward for having gained a decisive victory over the Xiongnu. About 15 km south-west of the town is the Buddhist temple site of Wenshushan.

Dunhuang, the oasis town lies in an irrigated cotton-producing oasis. Between cotton fields and threshing areas at the edge of the town, the White Pagoda Dagoda is reminiscent in its shape of the White Dagoda in Beijing.

The Mogao Caves which is about 25 km southeast of the town has 492 grottoes. The first caves are said to have been built by the monk Lezun in 366 and the last ones were carved out at the time of the Mongolian conquest in 1277. Purely touristic attractions in Dunhuang are the Lunar Lake and the Singing Sand Mountain.

 

Urumqi, the capital of the Autonomous Region lies 900 metres above sea level is a huge town. About 75 percent of its population are Han Chinese and only 10 percent each are Uighur and Hui people. The development of industry has resulted in considerable environmental pollution in the recent years. The Museum of the Autonomous Region is worth a visit. Apart from significant archaeological finds it also exhibits life-size models of the houses and tools of the most important nationalities in the region. It is worth taking an excursion to the Lake of Heaven which is 100 km away. It lies 1,900 metres high in the Tianshan mountains at the foot of the 5,445 metres high Bogdashan where the journey passes some scenic landscape.

Turfan, can be reached from Urumqi in a half-day bus journey from the town. Only a few old buildings have been preserved in Turfan. The Imin Minaret, built with clay bricks in 1776 and the sparsely furnished mosque next to it are the symbols of the town. The underground irrigation system or Karez is worth visiting. In Karez, the melting water from the mountains is channeled underground to the oasis over long distances. The local museum shows relics from the Silk Road, mummies from the Astana Graves, silks from the early period of transcontinental trade and funerary objects.

Kashgar lies 1,300 metres high on the bank of Tuman river in the middle of an irrigation oasis with cotton and agricultural cultivation. The population of 240,000 is predominantly Uighur. Kashgar only became Chinese around 200 BC, then again during the Tang period and finally during the period of the Qing emperors. Kashgar is the furthest away form the sea of all the big towns and it is closer to Moscow , Islamabad, Delhi, Kabul and Teheran than to Beijing.

The Id Kah Mosque in the town centre was renovated in 1981 and it is China’s biggest mosque with a central dome and two flanking minarets. Behind the gate are open, tree-lined squares for prayers and 100 metres behind Is the Great Prayer Hall, open only for Friday prayer.

Taxkorgan about 250 km from Kashgar is the "last outpost" in China before Paksitan is the capital of the Autonomous District of the same name with majority of Tadzhik peoples. According to accounts by Ptolemy, trader from the East and West used to trade their goods here without crossing the borders.

   
  ............................................................................................................................
 

REGIT mailbox
 @ Copyright by REGIT Sdn Bhd. All rights reserved
  ............................................................................................................................